Residents of Rēzekne will be able to place food products in a specially equipped cabinet, which can then be taken free of charge by people in need of them.
"Currently, we are located at the administrative building of the Social Services at Zemnieku 16a, Rēzekne. There is a free food exchange point," said Gunārs Arbidāns, head of the Rēzekne Social Services department, showing the cabinet of the food exchange point.
Arbidāns emphasized that the initiative to create such a food exchange point came from the entrepreneurs of Rēzekne, who are also ready to donate to fill the food exchange cabinet.
"The idea came from the entrepreneurs of our city, the association of entrepreneurs. There are businesses who also work in the field of food, and we will hope that there will be support from them," noted Arbidāns.
"There will be no additional control here, no one will ask for any information. If a person has a need, let them come, because not only the poor or low-income people can come here, but also seniors who need support, even though they have not been evaluated as such by the Social Services," explained Arbidāns.
The opinions of residents interviewed anonymously on the streets of Rēzekne about creating the food exchange cabinet were divided, and people also admitted that the economic situation forced them to save and count every cent. People interviewed said:
"It's something similar to Rīga. I didn't know about creating such a product exchange point. Now I'll know. I'm ready to put something there. Why not? Maybe some pasta, other products."
"I usually buy so that nothing is left over. If there is anything left, then yes, you can put it in."
"Frankly speaking, I now buy products at a lower price, on their expiration date. And no one in the family protests, because these are the conditions now. And I am not ashamed of buying discounted bread."
Ināra Dzindzuka, the representative of the Northern Latgale administration of the Food and Veterinary Service, emphasized that although the donation of products is voluntary, there must be some controls in place to ensure food hygiene.
"There must be a specific list of food products to be placed in the community cupboard and requirements for their packaging and labeling. This cupboard can only contain food products that are in their original packaging, on which the expiration date is indicated. Fruits and vegetables can be placed in packaging without labeling, but they must be intact," noted Dzindzuka.
So far, there is only one food exchange point in Rēzekne, and no municipal money was spent on its establishment. All expenses were covered by the business community.
About two years ago, free food exchange points were also established in other places in Latgale – Viļaka and Ludza.